Genetic immunization with glycoprotein 63 cDNA results in a helper T cell type 1 immune response and protection in a murine model of leishmaniasis

Patricia S. Walker, Tanya Scharton-Kersten, Edgar D. Rowton, Ulrich Hengge, Anne Bouloc, Mark C. Udey, Jonathan C. Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic immunization is a promising gene therapy approach for the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. Plasmid DNA expressing genes of pathogens is directly introduced into host cells and specific cell-mediated and/or humoral immune responses are elicited against the encoded protein. Leishmaniasis is a significant world-wide health problem for which no vaccine exists. In susceptible animals, such as BALB/c mice, protection from leishmaniasis requires induction of a Th1 immune response. In this study, cell-mediated immunity to Leishmania major (L. major) was induced by injecting BALB/c mice intradermally with plasmid DNA expressing the conserved L. major cell surface glycoprotein gp63 (gp63-pcDNA-3), CD4 T lymphocytes from gp63-pcDNA-3-immunized mice proliferated and produced IFN-γ (but not IL-4) when stimulated in vitro with freeze-thawed parasites, consistent with a Th1 immune response. In contrast, lymphocyte proliferation in animals immunized with freeze-thawed parasites was associated with IL-4 (but not IFN-γ) production, suggesting a nonprotective Th2 response. Challenge studies revealed that gp63-pcDNA-3 vaccination protected 30% of susceptible mice (21 of 70) from Leishmania infection while neither gp63 protein (0 of 20) nor freeze-thawed parasite vaccines (0 of 50) were efficacious. Dendritic cells derived from skin of gp63-pcDNA-3-injected mice also immunized naive recipients and protected them from leishmaniasis. We conclude that gp63-pcDNA-3 genetic vaccination results in a CD4-dependent Th1 immune response that correlates with protection from disease, and suggest that skin-derived dendritic cells are involved in priming this response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1899-1907
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Volume9
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998

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